in collaboration with the gilded iguana hotel in costa rica’s town of nosara, studio saxe designs the athletic center as a small village amongst the trees. with its expressive materiality and structure, the breezy timber project generates a public space which brings together locals and visitors with the shared interests of pursuing an active lifestyle and wellbeing. the site is situated in a centralized location within the pacific yoga town to serve as an adhesive for retail, sports, and leisure, while integrating with the lush natural atmosphere. the athletic center host an array of such programming as a surf-shop, bike-shop, and gym, as well as multiple studios for jiu jitsu, yoga, and personal massages. with the project, the design team introduces a place for visitors and locals searching for an active and meditative environment.

studio saxe athletic center
all images by andres garcia lachner



with the athletic center, studio saxe and the gilded iguana hotel investigate intelligent methods of adapting a complex and diverse set of programming within the site’s existing framework of trees and wildlife. human activity is intended to co-exist in symbiotic relationship with the natural world in order to accentuate the path towards wellbeing. the design team begins with a single volume, subdivided into smaller programed masses organized within the voids between the existing trees. these smaller volumes are in turn interconnected with bridges and paths to create a public realm that is both diverse and intricate. the result is a series of interior public spaces that connect visitors to nature while shielding the intense sun and heat.

studio saxe athletic center



the athletic center is conceived by studio saxe with a modular construction approach, lending a minimal impact on the surrounding natural context. the structure is designed to preserve and protect the existing vegetation and landscape through intelligent engineering. the mass of the building is divided into a collection of components and distributed along the site to retain and protect the trees and vegetation. long roof overhangs not only protect the interstitial spaces from the blazing sun and the rain, but also are used to collect water in order to be re-used for the building’s mechanical systems and for landscaping irrigation.

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project info:


project title: the athletic center

architecture: studio saxe

location: nosara, guanacaste, costa rica

client: the gilded iguana holdings

design director: benjamin garcia saxe

builder: LHC constructores

structural engineer: sotela alfaro ltda.

electromechanical engineer: dynamo studio

completion: november 2019

photography: andres garcia lachner